|Location Map ( geo)
|Traffic on the A8 passing Port Glasgow Town Building at Coronation Park
|Places related to the A8
|Places related to the A761
Port Glasgow is located on the south bank of the River Clyde in Renfrewshire, about 18 miles north west of Glasgow, where the river widens and deepens to become the Firth of Clyde. In the days of sail, the town's location on a west flowing estuary in the north west of the mainland gave it an advantage of several days passage over the likes of Bristol and the east coast ports in the race to trade with North America. Today, the town is well connected by road, rail and air, being only five miles by modern dual carriageway from the M8 western extremity, 14 miles from Glasgow Airport and 21 miles from Glasgow city centre. Prestwick Airport is within 50 miles.
Port Glasgow is the second largest of the three towns served by Inverclyde Council, the others being the larger Greenock and the smaller Gourock. The present population (2021) is around fifteen thousand, having fallen by around 20% since the demise of the shipbuilding industry in the 1980s. The residents are known as "Portonians".
The oldest building is Newark Castle which stands close to Newark Roundabout which is where the western end of the A761 joins the A8. The A8 at the junction has been re-routed twice since the late 1960s. The first re-routing was to a dual carriageway to the north of the old line of Robert Street, running parallel to the south side of the Inverclyde Line railway. It joined the A761 at the newly created Blackstone Roundabout before passing under the railway on a new, wider bridge than the adjacent (now blocked off) Robert Street bridge. The second re-routing was in the mid 1980s to the present dual carriageway immediately north of the railway. A short section of the former A8 is now the A761 which links Blackstone Roundabout to Newark Roundabout.
The A8 in the west end of the town has also been re-routed twice since the mid 1970s.
As the name suggests, Port Glasgow was once the principal port of the city of Glasgow. Before the Clyde was made navigable all the way to the city centre, the larger transatlantic sailing ships needed to offload their cargoes into smaller ships or carts to complete the journey to the city. In 1668 the Magistrates of Glasgow purchased a piece of land west of Newark Castle from Sir Patrick Maxwell for the sum of £722, in order to set up docks for this purpose.
As the shipping trade eventually moved upstream as the river was made navigable east of Port Glasgow, the town turned its hand to shipbuilding, a trade which thrives until this day in the form of Ferguson Marine Shipyard, albeit on a much smaller scale than in the heyday of Port Glasgow shipbuilding in the early 20th Century. The earliest recorded shipbuilder in the town was Thomas McGill in 1780. John Wood (who built the Comet for Henry Bell in 1812) followed in 1783 with a shipyard near his birthplace at the foot of King Street. Various other yards came and went until William Todd Lithgow arrived on the scene in partnership with Anderson Rodgers and Joseph Russell in 1874. This partnership built the famous barque "Falls of Clyde" in 1878, which survives to this day in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.
18th Century shipbuilding demanded a lot of timber and Port Glasgow was a major timber importer during this time. Massive shipments of prepared and unprepared timber were received from far-flung places such as Canada, Norway and the Baltic states. Vast timber holding ponds were constructed to the east of Newark Castle, stretching almost three miles along the coast, beyond Parklea, to Langbank. These are still very much in evidence today and can be seen from the A8.
Another prominent industrial landmark in the town is the former Gourock Ropeworks building at Newark Roundabout. This mill made ropes and sails for sailing ships, as well as the ropes for some of the great liners, including the Queen Mary. It was converted to loft apartments in 2006/07.
|Greenock, Paisley, Glasgow (M8)
|Kilmacolm, Bridge of Weir, Paisley
|From Port Glasgow